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Scott Pruitt
  Squawk Box  CNBC  March 9, 2017 8:42am-8:53am EST

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>> i'm going to cause that. >> fisticuffs. >> i'm going to instigate that. now to our news maker of the morning. scott pruitt, administrator of the environmental protection agency. other guys get called secretary. do i call you administrator pruitt? you know what i saw earlier? epa chief scott pruitt. i don't feel right calling you chief, chief. should i? >> good morning, joe. and whatever you want. scott is just fine. >> you know what, don't say i can call you anything i want. a lot of people are calling you some things you probably don't like, as you know. you're going to be speaking to cera soon. can you give us some highlights of what you're going to be saying to that industry group? >> you know, for the last several years -- and it's great to be in houston, joe, and good to be with you this morning as well. for the last several years, we've adopted this mentality you can't be pro growth and pro jobs and pro environment. that's never the way we've done business as a country.
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one of the things i think we need to do is have an attitude that says we can be pro growth, pro jobs, and pro environment. we've had a 63% reduction in air pollutants since our program. we have opportunities to improve that across the country. this idea if you're pro environment, anti-energy, is something that has to change. we're working on that very much. >> two weeks and two days you've been there. so far you've done some water stuff. you've done some methane stuff. what do you plan on doing to the standards, and why were they, in your view, detrimental and how are you going to change them? >> well, the issue there really was more about process, joe. that's something i've also tried to start sharing with those at the agency to reignite a belief or a passion or commitment to rule of law and process. what we've seen in the last several years is regulatory uncertainty with respect to the
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markets and growing our economy. fiscal policy, tax policy, very, very important. i think one of the factors that's often missed is regulatory uncertainty. those in the finance sector, the health care sector, the energy sector, not knowing what's expected of them or as rules are passed, they're changed midstream after infrastructure investment is taking place. one of the things we need to focus upon at the epa is maintaining a commitment to process, making sure that we hear comments from industry, to hear how rules are going to impact them, citizens, health concerns, environmental concerns. then adopt rules and make sure that they're enforced appropriately, fairly, equitably across the board. regulatory certainty is something we need to focus upon at the epa. that's what we're trying to reinstill in the agency presently. >> administrator pruitt, try to incapsulate my question here. in recent years, critics would say the epa has been too focused on co2 and maybe things like hazardous waste sites,
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particulate pollution, strip mining, what's happening to the oceans. there's so many things that the epa could do productively that maybe have been diverted from the single-minded focus on co2. are you consciously changing the direction of the epa to emphasize co2 emissions less and emphasize these other things more? >> i think that's a fair criticism, joe, because you've seen water programs particularly take less of an importance. as you know, the epa is involved in giving grants across the country to ensure our water infrastructure is strong and safe. we have super fund sites across the country that really need attention. we have the brownsville program that's been a great economic tool in the inner city to go in and remediate areas that need to be remediated. all those need to be focal points. with respect to the issue of co2, there's going to be an
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announcement on that soon. what's concerning to me and i think to the president is how that process occurred, comments taken through the end of last year and within ten days they accelerated their decision to say those standards should be adopted or continued and increased. so that's something we're going to address very, very soon. you mentioned methane. you mentioned -- you know, there was an information collection request that was sent out by the agency before this administration that tried to collect from 15,000 oil and gas producers across the country information in advance of regulating methane under section 111. we've withdrawn that after hearing from industry, with respect to that issue. we're taking steps to instill rule of law process, and also making sure we're listening to those in industry and how it's going to impact them as rules are passed >> the clean power act, if you were to roll that back in some way without going in to the original ruling about endangerment, the obama administration ruled that co2 -- and it's controversial that co2
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is a dangerous pollutant. will you try to roll that back, or will you try to -- do you think that needs to be addressed about whether you can classify co2 as a pollutant? >> you know, it's interesting about the situation with co2, joe. we've had a supreme court decision in 2007 and then the endangerment finding you're making reference to in 2009. nowhere in the continuum, nowhere on the equation has congress spoken. the legislative branch has not addressed this issue at all. it's a very fundamental question to say, are the tools in the tool box available to the epa to address this issue of co2 as the court had recognized in 2007. the decision in 2007 was not that the epa had to regulate. the decision in 2007 was they needed to make a decision. so i think all those things need to be addressed as we go forward but not least of which is the response bit legislative branch with respect to this issue. i don't want to miss, joe --
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last week the president did something very, very important, talking about regulatory certainty. he rolled back the waters in the united states rule that was literally a power grab by the epa recently to assert itself in jurisdiction to make decisions locally in land use decisions with private property owners, cities, and towns across the country. puddles and dry creek beds were being regulated by the epa and put a paralysis on economic development. the president did a great thing last week by sending that executive order out. within eight minutes, we started that rule making process to roll it back. i anticipate the same thing will happen with the clean power plan. i anticipate the same thing will happen with the methane rule as well. >> administrator, couple questions. do you think that fuel efficiency standards matter? you think we should have fuel efficiency standards? >> i mean, i think that what has been broken in that process is, one, not a recognition of the great progress that's been made with those standards, but two,
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those in detroit, those that are manufacturing autos this in country expressed to the epa that they wanted to evaluate the impact of the previous standards. that was largely disregarded. that is a breach of the process. that's something that as we do our business at the epa, we want to have a collaborative process, make sure that the rule making process, issuing notice, taking comment, responding to that comment, and issuing rules in a way that takes everything into consideration needs to be respected. as you know, joe, that rule or that review of the standards was not supposed to be completed until november of 2018. so they accelerated that by almost 18 months. that says something. that says there was an outcome predetermined to achieve certain things. >> the next question -- and the last one was andrew. what's your next about private e-mail servers or something? >> no, i'm not asking about i'm private e-mail servers. >> go ahead. >> i think there's a larger
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question. you're talking about the uncertainty that you think this department has created historically a lot of these things were set and a lot of companies were already moving to try to deal effectively with what the new rules are. they're now getting in some cases peeled back and then there are going to be lawsuits on either side. isn't there to some degree around whether more uncertainty is being created? >> well, you mentioned lawsuits. when you look at the lawsuits filed over the last several years against the epa, they've largely been centered around two things, one, a disregard of the statute, the framework, or two, they've not met deadlines. i think in the rule making process what's important is that the epa respect the timelines established by congress and then play within the framework that congress established passing those rules to give certainty to the marketplace. partnering with the states not as adversaries, under the obama administration under the clean air act alone there are 56
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federal implementation acts from president bush, president clinton and president bush 2 there are only five, that reflects something. reflects an attitude we know best from washington, d.c. that's going to change. we're going to partner with the states to ensure we hear from them and industries as to adherence to the rules. >> it's being said mr. president is being buffeted about what to do with paris. that tillerson wants a stay to be at the table. have you urged him to withdraw? do you have a personal feeling yourself on whether the u.s. should stay in the paris climate deal or not? >> well, as you know that's largely a decision if not exclusive decision of the state department. i happen to think the paris accord, the paris agreement if you will should have been treated as a treaty. should have gone through senate confirmation. that's a concern. i also think it was a bad deal. >> yeah. >> it's one thing to be talking
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about co2 internationally, but when you front load your cost as we endeavor to do in that agreement and china and india back loaded their costs from 2030 and beyond, that's not good for america. that's not an america first type of approach to these issues. >> okay. let me ask you one other thing, just to get to the nitty-gritty, do you believe that it's been proven that co2 is the primary control knob for climate? do you believe that? >> no. i think that measuring with precision, human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. so, no, i would not agree it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. >> okay. all right. >> but we don't know that yet. we need to continue the review and analysis. >> it's a -- when i hear the scientists settled, it's like i never heard that science actually gotten to a point where it was so that's the whole point of science is that you keep
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asking questions. you keep asking questions. but i don't want to be called a denier. so scares me. it's a terrible thing to be called. anyway, administrator pruitt, i know you don't want to be calle